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Title chasers return refreshed and recharged

Title chasers return refreshed and recharged

Title chasers return refreshed and recharged

The MotoGP teams and riders were reunited in the World Championship paddock at the Brno circuit today after a three week summer break since the last round at Sachsenring. Series leader and reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi returned from his holidays in Ibiza sporting a radical new red haircut reminiscent of his days in the 125 and 250 categories. Rossi is coming under increasing pressure at the top of the championship and having previously won races here in both classes, including his maiden career victory in 1996, he will be hoping his new image brings back the luck which deserted him here one year ago and appears to have been absent over the last four races.

"I saw a girl dyeing people's hair different colours on the beach in Spain but I didn't see anybody with red so I thought I would try it again," smiled Rossi, who also won the MotoGP race here in 2001. "This circuit is perhaps not suited to my style but I have good memories – particularly of my first win, which is something that stays with you for life. Last year I had bad luck with the tyre and had to pull out of the race but we had a good test here last month and we will be picking up from there. It is important for me to get a win because in recent races I have had some bad luck and sometimes I have simply been slower than the other riders, but the important thing is that I am leading the championship and that is my target."

Rossi's title challengers Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi were happy to return to business for different reasons, with Gibernau looking to continue his run of good form and Biaggi desperate to make up for a disappointing weekend in the last round. Gibernau, who has also been letting his hair down in Ibiza, lies second in the championship and is just 29 points behind Rossi but remains philosophical about his chances. "I did not expect to be in this position at this stage of the season but my objectives and those of the team remain the same – to pick up experience and learn. I have never been in this position before, unlike Valentino and Max, so I am just out there to do my best and see what happens."

Biaggi, however, was in a slightly more single-minded mood as he looks to repeat his victory from last season and follow up on an excellent test here a few weeks ago. "This track is very special to me and it suits my style with the wide track and sweeping hills," explained the Italian, who is third in the championship and has won here seven times in the past. "All I can say is ‘watch out', because the only way I can challenge for the title is to start winning races now and I have nothing to lose. I will be going for the win and nothing else."

Ducati will once again be trying to break the hegemony of the Honda trio this weekend after also impressing in the August test. Loris Capirossi was second fastest behind Biaggi and both he and team-mate Troy Bayliss, fresh off the back of his latest podium at the Sachsenring three weeks ago, will be using a new aerodynamic fairing on the Desmosedici. Bayliss arrived at the circuit late this afternoon after being held up in customs at the border control between Austria and the Czech Republic. The Australian's former World Superbike nemesis Colin Edwards also had a busy day as he joined Carlos Checa on a visit to a local children's hospital.


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